Summer Term: Session 4

Something Lost: Words and the Voiding of Psychic Reality

Professor Josh Cohen
(Goldsmiths, University of London)

6-8pm, Wednesday 30th May
Senate House, Room G26 (Ground Floor)

In this paper, Professor Josh Cohen brings Freud and Blanchot into dialogue by way of the problem of externalization in psychoanalysis and literature. The passage from the thing to the word set out in the Freudian account of becoming conscious is ironically recapitulated in the Blanchotian account of the becoming of literature. A couple of very short stories by Lydia Davis (not coincidentally the translator of the relevant Blanchot essay) will help adumbrate this predicament.

Josh Cohen is Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is the author of Spectacular Allegories: Postmodern American Writing and the Politics of Seeing (Pluto Press, 1998), Interrupting Auschwitz: Art, Religion, Philosophy (Continuum Guide to Holocaust Studies, 2003), and How to Read Freud (Granta, 2005). He specialises in contemporary literature and philosophy, and is also a practising psychoanalyst. His forthcoming book, The Private Life (Granta, Autumn 2013), explores the pervasive drive in contemporary life to eradicate the fundamental strangeness of the private experience.

Suggested Reading:

- Sigmund Freud, 'The Ego and the Id', Chapter 2. 
- Maurice Blanchot, 'Literature and the Right to Death,' from The Work of Fire

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